Peter Beerel – Faculty Director, Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Peter Beerel received his B.S.E. degree in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, in 1989 and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, Stanford, CA, in 1991 and 1994, respectively. He joined the the Department of Electrical Engineering–Systems at USC in 1994. Dr. Beerel was the Faculty Director of Innovation Studies at the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation from 2006 to 2008 and is currently the Faculty Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Engineering for the Viterbi School of Engineering.

Dr. Beerel has also consulted for Trellisware in the area of communication hardware design as well as Yuni Networks and AMCC in the area of network chip analysis and verification. He was on a leave of absence from USC between June 2002 to September 2004, during which time he served as Vice-President of CAD and Verification at Fulcrum Microsystems. In May of 2008, he took a second leave of absence from USC and co-founded TimeLess Design Automation with one of his Ph.D. students, Dr. Georgios Dimou. Their mission was to demonstrate and commercialize an asynchronous ASIC flow. They were successful and sold the company in July of 2010 to Fulcrum Microsystems. Fulcrum Microsystems was acquired by Intel in 2011 and became its Switch Router Division at which he also works as Chief Scientist, Technology Development.

Andrea Belz – Vice Dean, Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Andrea Belz is the inaugural Vice Dean for Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. She serves as the Director of the NSF Innovation Corps (“I-Corps”) funded Innovation Node – Los Angeles and has served as Entrepreneur-in-Residence, with faculty appointments in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering; the Iovine and Young Academy for Arts, Technology, and the Business of Innovation; and the USC Marshall School of Business. She also currently serves as Visiting Professor of Engineering at the California Institute of Technology. Her research focuses on modeling technology-based entrepreneurial ecosystems and she has published research in optical systems, nuclear physics, geomicrobiology, and systems engineering with an emphasis on NASA SBIR program. She is the founder and chair of the Technology Transfer and Infusion session at the IEEE Aerospace Conference.

Dr. Belz is Managing Director of Kinetic Intelligence, an intellectual property strategy consultancy, and has previously guided strategic planning for world-class innovators including Avery Dennison, BP, California Institute of Technology, CVI Melles Griot, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Occidental Petroleum, Raytheon, SPIE, and UCLA, as well as venture capital firms, university technology startups, and international public-private partnerships supporting technology transfer ecosystems. An active angel investor, she serves on the Board of Directors of Caltech spinoff laser manufacturer Ondax. She holds a B.S. in physics from the University of Maryland at College Park, with High Honors in physics and University Honors in political economics; a Ph.D. in physics from the California Institute of Technology; and an M.B.A. in finance from the Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business.

Viktor Brandtneris – Instructor

Viktor Brandtneris has a diverse financial and general management background from experiences in both corporate and entrepreneurial environments. In his early career he worked in the computer industry in numerous financial planning and modeling roles for companies including IBM and Computervision. His first entrepreneurial endeavor was as co-founder of the Devonshire Trust Company, a boutique money management and mutual fund company in Salem, Massachusetts. After the sale of Devonshire Trust, Mr. Brandtneris stayed active in the financial markets and small business consulting. As Principal of Brandtneris Consulting, he provides business-modeling services.

Mr. Brandtneris is a nationally trained instructor of the NSF I-Corps Program and Director of Ann Arbor SPARK’s Entrepreneurial Boot Camp. Mr. Brandtneris has an M.B.A. in Finance and Marketing from Boston College and a double major B.A. in Economics & Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania.

Aaron Fyke – Instructor

Aaron Fyke has spent over twenty years as an entrepreneur, having founded, or assisted in the creation of, five companies and with a track record of building successful energy companies across a number of technology areas including fuel cell, ocean power, concentrating solar, advanced automotive engines, and energy storage technologies. He has deep experience as an operating executive, investor, and engineer.

He is currently a Investment Director at Rusheen Capital, and a Venture Partner with Climate Impact Capital. He was previously the CEO of Edisun Heliostats and Energy Cache. Previously he led the development of a $10m energy prize for the X PRIZE Foundation. Prior to that he was a Partner at Starfish Ventures, Australia’s largest venture capital firm, where Aaron led the investment into the fund’s biggest investment and exit – Ausra, a KPCB and Khosla Ventures backed solar thermal energy company.

Aaron earned his MBA and MSME as an LGO fellow at MIT, and his BEng in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Victoria, where he graduated at the top of his class. He has achieved certification as a Professional Engineer both in California and British Columbia.

Aleksandar Giga – Research Associate

Aleksandar Giga is a postdoctoral research fellow at the USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering. His research interest lies in understanding the development, commercialization, and financing of transformative technologies. His research projects include an evaluation of government grants to small innovative businesses, an analysis of firm financing through equity crowdfunding, and experimental work on decision making under risk and uncertainty. He has a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Southern California and a B.A. in Economics (with honors) from the University of Pennsylvania.


Trina Gregory – Senior Lecturer, ITP; and Advisor, Hacker House

Trina Gregory is a senior lecturer for ITP teaching technology, programming, and mobile classes. She began teaching at USC in January 2007 as a part-time lecturer and transitioned to a full-time, non-tenured track faculty position in August 2009. Trina created and oversees the Mobile App Development minor. After getting a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics-Computer Science from UCSD, she worked full-time in the computer science field for over 12 years. She mainly worked for SAIC developing, writing, and managing software for the Department of Defense. She received a master’s degree in Computer Science from USC.

Trina Gregory has taught classes in Java, Python, and Objective-C (iOS) programming, web publishing, information technology, and mobile apps. Whether it is a new class or one she has taught before, Trina is constantly updating the lectures and labs to keep up-to-date with the latest technologies. She loves helping students achieve their goals and is thus involved in various student organizations.

Mike Lee – Faculty member, ITP; and Advisor, Hacker House

Mike, an innovator in the media & entertainment and technology space, has split his career between major studios (Fox & Warner Bros) and innovative start-ups that have revolutionized the Internet (Netscape & YEKRA). He is now at his dream job of engaging with students at USC. Mike teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in digital entrepreneurship and enterprise systems for USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering and Marshall School of Business. He is also the CTO of USC Annenberg’s Media Impact Project.

Prior to USC, he spent the previous decade at Fox and Warner Bros, as a VP of Technology and Director; Netscape as a Technology Evangelist; and CTO/VP Technology for various Internet/software companies. Mike has spoken on Internet technologies at major conferences across the United States and Europe.

Jillian O’Connor – I-Corps Teaching Assistant

Jillian O’Connor is the I-Corps Teaching Assistant and a project specialist with the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California. Working with the Node’s collaborating institutions, USC, UCLA and Caltech, as well as its regional partners, she helps IN-LA realize its mission to accelerate technology commercialization, support engineering entrepreneurship and educate innovation leadership throughout Southern California and beyond. Before joining the IN-LA team, Jillian served as a project manager at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and School of Cinematic Arts. She holds a BA in English from Temple University and an MA in Cultural Studies from Claremont Graduate University.

Rosemary Rohde – Instructor

Dr. Rosemary Rohde was born in sunny Miami, Florida. She moved to LA and graduated from UCLA on a full scholarship. Dr. Rose studied chemistry with Jim Heath at Caltech and received her PhD in 2009. She was a co-founder and senior scientist of Indi Molecular, a biotech company that designed artificial antibodies for medical diagnostics. After working on that project for six years, now she teaches and develops science curricula for H-bar Tutoring, which she co-founded and where she currently serves as CEO; and Ad Astra School, where she is the Founding Science Director, Chair of Admissions, and serves on the Administrative Team.

Dr. Rose is an entrepreneur and educator at heart. From age 13 she and her mother co-ran a furniture company with interior and floral decorating; their new company will sell unique, handmade jewelry. Dr. Rose is looking forward to working with a motivated group of high students this summer at USC interested in entrepreneurship.

Farzin Samadani – Instructor

Farzin Samadani has a diverse background in business and technology. His current focus is as a co-founder of Curious Me, a technology startup, and also consulting entrepreneurs and startups using the Lean Start-Up methodology. He is also part of the teaching team of Innovation Node-Los Angeles, serving as adjunct instructor for regional and national NSF I-Corps cohorts. He also has extensive experience in the corporate environment, both in large and smaller companies. As an executive at XAP Corporation, an education technology company, he was responsible for setting the product strategy, strategic partnerships and company operations. At Coca-Cola, he had a senior role in providing technology solutions to help lean business processes.

Farzin volunteers at the Chamber of Commerce events to assist local businesses improve their operations and profitability through lean principles and use of modern technology. He also enjoys mentoring startup technology companies participating at General Assembly and at local Meetup Groups. Farzin’s education is in Business Management and Accounting from the University of Maryland

Helena Yli-Renko – Director, Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies

Dr. Helena Yli-Renko is the Director of the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at USC Marshall. She teaches courses in entrepreneurship on the graduate and undergraduate levels and is well known for her research on young, technology-based firms—in particular the business model development, customer relationships, new product development, and internationalization of such firms. She has published 18 journal articles and book chapters, and her research has won awards from the Academy of Management, the National Federation of Independent Business, and the American Marketing Association.

Dr. Yli-Renko is also co-founder of technology start-up Perception Robotics where she leads business development and financing activities. Prior to joining USC, Dr. Yli-Renko worked as strategy consultant at McKinsey & Company and as research fellow at London Business School.

Fernando Zapatero – Robert G. Kirby Chair in Behavioral Finance & Professor of Finance and Business Economics

Fernando Zapatero is a financial economist who studies problems in asset pricing and corporate finance, with an emphasis on mathematical and computational methods. His research has been published in the Journal of Finance, Journal of Financial Economics,Review of Financial StudiesEconometricaJournal of Economic TheoryMathematical Finance, and Management Science, and he coauthor of Introduction to the Economics and Mathematics of Financial Markets (MIT Press). He is an associate editor for Annals of FinanceJournal of Economic Dynamics and ControlMathematical Finance, and Mathematics and Financial Economics. Before joining USC, Professor Zapatero served on the faculty of the University of Texas, UC-Berkeley, and ITAM.